It was another good week, ballet-wise. I mean, it definitely had its moments…
At barre during Intermediate Class (as well as during open level class at New Studio), I mostly felt like I was keeping up, not making too many huge errors (though I do need my posture adjusted now and then). I’m continuing to work on letting go of the barre for my passe releve balance and get both arms in middle fifth. We did echappe releves without hand on the barre and I noticed that my balance has gotten way better. I think all that bare-less warm up work during modern class has helped with this. I’ve also not been getting corrected on not crossing my fifth position enough, so hopefully that means I’ve been doing it better. While barre went well, center in Intermediate class has been on the challeging side.
This week we worked on a new center combination, lots of tendus, changing the angle/facing and 2 pas de bourres between each set of tendus. and unfortunately I forgot the rest, but there was at least one pirouette en dehors involved. This may have been the time when Teacher asked us for a double. While I cannot do a double yet (obviously!), I’ve noticied that when teachers ask for a double I somehow end up getting all the way around on my single – yay!
Another day we did this somewhat difficult adagio: developpe devant croisse, close and brush back to arabesque, pas de bourre, chasse into fourth position, lunge, from lunge go into attitude derriere and promenade, to developpe a la seconde, close, pirouette en dedans, soutenu, pique sous-sus, other side. The biggest challenges for me here were remembering what step comes next (obviously), and the promenade. While promenades in attitude derriere are easier for me that in arabesque, it was the transition that was getting me, the super quick weight shift. We did something similar in class at New Studio when we weight shifted from plie in fourth to a passe releve balance, but for whatever reason the lunge to attitude weight shift seemed more unstable. I caught a glimpse of my positioning in the mirror and it was so ugly!
We did a drill for pirouettes, lots and lots of pirouettes (en dehors)! On pirouettes I’ve been working on making sure to bring the passe foot in front of my knee, as opposed to behind like a pique turn (which just feels so much easier to me). For whatever reason, my body was cooperating this week, and I did several decent single pirouettes en dehors from fourth, to the left. To the right I think maybe I did one or two that were ok, so for now the left is my stronger turning side. At least for pirouettes – when we did pique turns across the floor, I noticed my left side is definitely not my best. Pirouettes from fifth were harder, but then too the ones to the left were stronger. It’s so weird though, because for the longest time my passe releve was much stronger and stable onto my left leg (so this would help for pirouettes en dehors to the right), and now my better pirouettes are on my right leg, when going left. After class I had a little talk with Teacher regarding the uneveness of my pirouetting ability. Since it’s not my weaker balancing leg that is the problem we figure it’s my core, so she suggested doing additional core work to strengthen my weaker side.
One of the days we did a slightly slower petit allegro that I somewhat kept up with. It was sautes in first, changements, echappe, pas de bourre (right), echappe, pas de bourre (left), temps leve, soubresaut, other side. Then we did it at a faster tempo, and it was challenging but I didn’t feel completely lost. To be fair, there were no assembles involved, so that’s probably why it went ok for me…
The second time I did Intermediate Class we had a different petit allegro: (glissade, assemble) x3, glissade jete, and ballote for the rest of the counts. Yeah, me doing ballote looked completely ridiculous. I’m probably going to do lots of youtubing to see what it’s supposed to look like. In class at New Studio we did a petit allegro that included jumps from second to fourth and back to second then fourth. I guess like echappes but closing in fourth instead of fith. It was pretty difficult getting the coordination of that right. Combinations at New Studio are usually really pretty, and we do pretty port de bras and lots of bourres – and for whatever reason, my promenades tend to work out better during that class. I like the layout of the studio as well – while it’s much smaller than the studio where I take Intermediate class, New Studio has a mirror that runs lengthwise so everyone gets an opportunity to see themselves. At Intermediate Class it can be so hard to find a good spot that’s not right in the front. And, unless Teacher asks us to switch lines, I feel awkward going in the front, especially when I keep forgetting the combination.
So, in the middle of all those ungraceful movements – fun, still, but definitely ungraceful – there are the things I’ve actually improved at. The all-the-way-around pirouettes are a big one. For the first time, I’m feeling confident about my pirouettes en dehors, at least to the left. And not just from fourth, but also from fifth which I used to be complete inept at. Also, I didn’t even realize when I managed to be able to do changements without stepping on myself at all during the whole set, or be in correct timing. I was also thinking about how at some point I also got comfortable using the head at barre. In center not so much yet – I’m still focusing on what step comes next – but it’s getting there. And my timing during sautes has gotten so much better – it’s been a little while now since I’ve been corrected on being out of time, not pointing my feet, jumping too quickly, or going up when everyone else in the group is coming down. I’m especially glad to see improvement in that area, because jumping’s been one of my bigest dance weaknesses the whole time I’ve been balleting, from my unpointed feet to my horrible timing, and feeling out of breath. I feel like I tried everything (and I mean everything – theraband foot strengthening exercises, lots and lots of releves, running in order to increase stamina) in order to improve at jumps. In the end, I think what worked was doing lots of slow sautes in all the positions with correct form at home that I’ve been doing at home. I try to do those any day I don’t take class, to not feel out of shape the next time I take class and we have to do 48 sautes or something.
My biggest challenge is how slow I am at picking up new things. Once I get the basic idea my obsessive part of my personality will work to get it right, but the initial understanding is so hard to come by. The ability to see movements and mimic them is not something that I have, at least naturally. But by now I’ve taken so many movement classes (ballet, pilates, modern) that I feel I somewhat have a good understanding of my body and what it can do, and which muscles do what actions which result in what. The visual part though… I don’t know, I’d hypothesize that it has to do with different learning styles and I’ve just never been a visual learner. I’m not much of a visual person naturally, but I think ballet has helped me so much in that respect, like now I notice a lot more details that I used to. So, even though my lack of this ability makes ballet harder, doing ballet actually makes me better at more than just ballet.